I wasn't planning on opening both SP Prospects boxes back to back but the first box left me so bewildered I couldn't let go.
2004 Upper Deck SP Prospects Hobby Box
24 packs, 5 cards per pack
5 Autographs (2 Autographed RC's; 3 Others Including a Dual, Triple or Quad)
Cost: $49.95 (Blowout Cards - Black Friday deal)
Estimated Cost Through Ebay (with shipping): $60-80
Holiday Sale Price at Blowout Cards Right Now: $59.95
These cards shine a lot in person. They have the wow factor.
Some may dislike the use of the same picture twice on each card. The back shows it again. One picture, three times.
But I like the looks of these cards and the use of different colors to match each team. I'd like to have every star in the set.
Unfortunately getting all the stars through pack busting is not a realistic option unless you want to buy five or so boxes. The set has 288 cards (w/o autos); 437 cards with the autos (plus additional variations). The first 90 cards in the set are established stars and semi-stars.
Each box contains 120 cards. I received just 12 stars in this box.
And I am counting this Troy Patton rookie as a star. Excluding inserts, that means just 10.6% of the cards are stars.
I also picked up six semi-stars.
The problem is there's 198 prospects/draft picks in the base set. The vast majority of these players are commons. Very few of them are even in the majors.
Too many of the prospects were clearly players who had no shot at a solid big league career (even in 2004 when this was released). Had they cut the prospect list in half or doubled the cards per pack to 10, things would have been better balanced.
This carries over to the hits as well:
Jason Windsor (s/n: #078/400). Windsor is out of baseball.
Bradley Davis (s/n: #013/400). Davis has not made it to the majors yet. He is 27 years old now.
Mitch Einertson (s/n: #335/400). Einertson has not made it to the majors. At least he is only age 23.
James Parr (s/n: #028/400). Here's the first auto of a name I recognize. Parr has been solid in the minor leagues (generally) and may end up with a decent career.
Look at his auto. Doesn't the last letter in his first name look like a 'y'? When I saw this I was reminded I have another auto of Parr.
They look like dramatically different autos to me.
Out of the many possible solo signatures, only a handful are stars or potential stars we all know of: Hunter Pence, Homer Bailey, Phil Hughes, Dustin Pedroia, Yovani Gallardo, Houston Street, Blake DeWitt, and Adam Lind.
I counted 248 different type of solo autos on the checklist (could be off - this includes draft pick autos).
Four of the five autos in the box will come from this pool. And although the print runs vary slightly, less than 4% of the single player autos are stars. I believe around 90% have never even had a full season in the majors. That ratio is difficult to overcome.
You also get two game used cards:
These cards look really nice. Devine was 6-1 in relief for Oakland in 2009. He had a sparkling 0.59 era in 45.2 innings pitched. Mayberry Jr. has a shot to be a solid run producer.
What you may or may not have noticed in the opening description, is that every box will have a dual, triple or quad auto.
The print runs are much lower than the single auto cards. Most of the dual and triple autos seem to have one good player and an unknown(s).
The quad autos buck that trend. One quad auto includes Yount, Winfield, Lynn and Eddie Murray. Another has Rice, Brett, Guidry and Schmidt. Amazing cards right? However you will almost certainly never pull one. You may never even see one in person. There's just nine different quad cards and each one has a print run of 10.
Nonetheless, generally speaking, the big hit of each box will be the guaranteed dual, triple or quad. Usually you will get a dual auto. And so it was:
Jason Kendall/Neil Walker (s/n: #051/100). I like the concept of this card. Kinda handing off the job to the next catcher. Of course Kendall is long gone from the Pirates, but Walker does seem poised to take over the major league catching slot soon. He had a .791 OPS in AAA last year. He just turned 24. Walker had a brief stay in the majors in '09. I assume it came when rosters expanded.
This set has a lot of beautiful cards and concepts, however the high cost combined with a bloated base set, a low chance of a decent hit, and the lack of cards per pack, make these boxes too risky a purchase for most collectors. There's too much fat and not enough meat.
After I finished up, the second box of SP Prospects started to stare at me.
Could it be as bad as one decent dual auto and 12 stars? Impossible! Right?
For better or worse, I needed to know.
I tore into it and two thirds deep into the mania, I finally found the card that sorta saved the day. At least I think it saved the two boxes from being a disaster. Maybe others disagree.
Stay tuned for the results of that box break either later today or Tuesday.
Thanks for reading!